Christmas is, at its very core, about the Gospel.
For this reason, the themes we often deem “Christmassy” are in reality, quite fitting for the whole calendar, since highlights of celebration, hope, peace, joy, love, giving, and the like, make appearances throughout the narrative of Scripture and daily life.
Because they are derived from God’s character and are interwoven in the greatest story of all, the Gospel, these elements serve as continual reminders of the goodness of God: the second person of God selflessly came to earth as a man named Jesus, into humility, and intentionally connected with us to reconnect us to the Father. As Eugene Peterson puts it, God put skin on and “moved into the neighborhood.” Because of this, we are renewed with hope in light of his nearness, celebrate with joy, revel in his engaging love, and perpetuate the cycle of giving that he models for us.
Among the richest of holiday traditions is the singing of Christmas carols, many of which are chock full of theological weightiness and Gospel truths, transcending seasonal bounds.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- “God and sinners reconciled.” The aim of the Gospel; Jesus calls us to be restored to connection with God, leave a life of sin, and move forward in a new life of being a person who reconciles others with God. II Corinthians 5:17-21.
- “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity. Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.” God put skin on and moved into the neighborhood. Jesus’ desire is to be with us down in the mess and redeem us from it.
- “Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace, hail the sun of righteousness.” Jesus wasn’t born as a citizen of earth or a created being, but is the Creator. John 1:1-5.
- “Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings.” Jesus’ heart is about new life, fresh starts, healing and hope and redemption. Malachi 4:1-3.
- “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Jesus’ life was obedience to the Father, giving himself as a ransom for many, temporarily stepping down from his heavenly throne to bring his kingdom of life to his creation, personally and passionately. Philippians 2:5-11.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
- “Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel…Ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.” The people of God awaited and anticipated a glorious new leader into an age of their renewed glory and restored justice, according to the ancient promises of Yahweh, which would be seen as the end of suffering, pain, and injustice endured by the people of Israel. Isaiah 9:2-7.
- “O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy strife and quarrels cease, fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.” God’s heart is for unity, peace and understanding that goes deeper than just a lack of conflict or superficial knowledge. The kingdom of heaven is where all are in communion with and faithfully surrender to King Jesus. Romans 5:1-11.
O Holy Night
- “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” All Creation groans in anticipation of redemption, renewal and restoration that only the Creator can bring. When Jesus is near to his people, hearts are stirred and souls awakened. Romans 8:18-25, Luke 24:13-32.
- “The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger, in all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger…” Christ came in humility, knows our struggles, and loves us faithfully despite our failures. Hebrews 4:14-16.
- “Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.” Jesus is the model for selfless, authentic love. Romans 12:9-17.
- “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” Jesus is about freedom. We no longer are bound in law, but freed to new life in relationship with Him. II Corinthians 3:3-18.
What carols and lyrics stand out to you?